Champion jockey Oisin Murphy made a successful return from suspension when bringing up his century for the season aboard The Kodi Kid in the opening race at Bath on Monday.
Murphy received a seven-day ban for careless riding after steering Tiritomba to victory at Ayr last month and was forced to sit out last week’s St Leger Festival at Doncaster and Longines Irish Champions Weekend as a result.
He appeared to have an excellent chance of making a winning comeback aboard Andrew Balding’s The Kodi Kid, who was the 11-10 favourite for the EBF Novice Auction Stakes off the back of finishing second on his first two starts at Chepstow and Sandown last month.
Supporters of the market leader will have had few concerns, with The Kodi Kid travelling powerfully to the lead before readily pulling four lengths clear of Grand Scheme – providing Murphy with his 100th winner from 539 rides since the resumption of racing on June 1.
Murphy told Sky Sports Racing: “It’s great to get another one on the board for Andrew – he’s my biggest supporter and the horses are flying, so I’m thrilled.
“It’s great to do it (ride 100th winner) for Andrew. This horse ran well last time and this was a good spot for him.”
Reflecting on his spell on the sidelines, he added: “I tried not to get too fat! I watched a lot of replays. Andrew had a Group Three winner and a Group Two winner – I’m obviously thrilled the stable has continued in super form.
“I went to Lake Como (in Italy), which was different. Obviously I don’t go on holidays, but it was super and it was great to see somewhere new.”
It did not take Murphy long to claim his 101st winner of the campaign – producing the Martyn Meade-trained Viaduct with a well-timed challenge to emerge victorious in the Visit attheraces.com Handicap.
The 6-1 shot had been off the track since finishing a close-up third at Kempton in December.
Freddie Meade, assistant to his father, said: “We’ve found the key to him at home. He’s had a bit of time off and hopefully he’s improving.”
Tom Marquand is Murphy’s nearest pursuer in the jockeys’ title race after Saturday’s St Leger hero struck gold aboard Impulsive One for trainer William Haggas in the Home Of Winners At valuerater.co.uk Nursery.
Runner-up on his last couple of outings at Newmarket and Windsor, the 5-4 market leader comfortably went one better.
Marquand has now ridden 78 winners this season, putting him one ahead of William Buick.
“I probably made a mistake on him last time – not getting him wound up early enough. I suppose Bath suited him that bit better, with a nice, stiff climbing finish,” said Marquand.
Looking back at his Classic triumph aboard Galileo Chrome, he added: “It still feels pretty surreal, to be honest.
“I know everyone says it’s a dream come true, but genuinely it really is.”